Ready to find out which car is worthy of winning the 2014 Motor Trend Best Driver’s Car competition, Powered by Mobil 1? Before we do, meet the final round of competitors: the 2015 Nissan GT-R Nismo, 2014 BMW i8, 2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe, and the 2015 Ford Fiesta ST.
Below you’ll find notes on today’s group of finalists, plus trac impressions from professional rac-er Randy Pobst after driving each car around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Give a veteran performance division a supercar and good things will probably happen. Case in point, the Super GT-inspired GT-R seen here. While striking and a bit controversial, the fixed wing and chiseled body are beneficial to its aerodynamic profile. Downforce is up 220 pounds at 185 mph, with no negative effect on the standard car’s 0.26 coefficient of drag.
Its 3.8-liter, twin-turbo V-6 gains 55 horses and 18 lb-ft of torque through the use of GT-R GT3-derived turbos, revised electronics, and new fuel management. Handling improves with such changes as stiffer Bilstein Damptronic dampers and springs, lighter six-spoke Rays Engineering wheels, and a more rigid body.
Only one option exists: A $13,000 exhaust made entirely of titanium. This is a GT-R on ‘roids, for sure.
On brakes: Very stable and strongest GT-R ever on power; ran it really strong. I wanted more brakes. It took a lot of pedal pressure, so that was holding it back and the entry understeer was holding it back.
On handling: It’s very controlled under power in kind of a typical GT-R fashion. It puts down power well. It does not push on the exits, which I love, but it was pushing on the entry, like a lot.
On suspension: My general impression is that this car is even firmer. It has very little body roll, a lot of shock dampening. Some of the GT-Rs could oversteer, and I never found that; maybe just a little tiny bit of power oversteer.
Overall: Very stable, typical GT-R in that way. Easy to drive fast, but high frustration, and it wouldn’t come down to the apex for me when you put the nose down in.
BMW‘s low, wide, and extremely lightweight plug-in hybrid sports car is made mostly of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic, boasts an aluminum chassis, and cocoons its passengers in a carbon-fiber Life modular passenger cell. It’s the future, now, BMW says.
Eco-friendly motivation comes from a 1.5-cylinder, inline three-cylinder turbo engine (228 horse-power, 236 lb-ft) that’s mated to a hybrid synchronous electric motor (129 hp, 184 lb-ft) with a 5-kW-hr lithium-ion battery capacity. The total output of 357 horses and 420 lb-ft gets driven through a six-speed automatic gearbox and two-speed overdrive (for the motor). The electric motor drives the front wheels, while the three-cylinder combustion engine handles the rear.
Dynamic Damper Control (active dampers), featherweight 20-inch forged aluminum wheels, and a fine-tuned electric power steering sharpen the i8’s corner handling. Drivers can find entertain-ment in one of five driving modes via its Driving Experience Control Switch (D, Comfort, Eco Pro, Sport, eDrive), and peace of mind in knowing that their interior is largely PET recyclable and that their car’s assembly was powered by wind.
On the tires: The Bridgestones on the car are relatively conservative. They’re real street tires unlike a lot of the hot cars that we run in Best Driver’s Car. They’re not a track-oriented soft compound, so the tire grip was not really high.
On handling and brakes: The i8 has a distinct tendency to understeer, especially in the middle of the corner — that means it’s after the turn-in. I get down in the middle of the corner using enough power to hold my speed but not trying to accelerate, there’s a lot of understeer. The front of the car slides first. Won’t turn. I found myself having to turn earlier. I also had to brake earlier. The braking power was not terribly impressive — partially related to the pure street tire.
On the steering: The steering feels electric and it’s very, very smooth. It’s very, very light. I actu-ally like a light steering but there’s not a lot of feedback and there’s absolutely no kickback, which is good.
Overall: Thank you to BMW for building a car that’s this exotic. I love the sculpture of it and the extreme styling. I think that’s a wonderful thing and the world needs more of it.
Take our word for it: The R Coupe roars and runs as great as it looks. Under its hood sits a 550-hp, 502-lb-ft 5.0-liter supercharged V-8. Its architecture uses aluminum extensively, allowing for a lighter, stronger construction and surer footwork.
A number of computer logarithms and mechanical systems — such as Adaptive Dynamics (adaptive dampers), electronically controlled torque vectoring, and a second-generation Elec-tronic Active Differential (EAD) — work hard to keep its Pirellis glued to terra firma.
Upshifting the eight-speed ZF gearbox from a corner is a both a thing of visceral beauty and acoustic violence. One thing must be remembered: Don’t underestimate the brutish athleticism of this very pretty kitty.
On the transmission: The Sport mode really wasn’t smart enough to do racetrack work. The gear ratios are close and they just really snap off the shifts beautifully.
On the engine: It’s is very powerful. I love the engine — super strong.
On the brakes: The brakes were great. They got a little hot. I could smell them, but no fade.
Overall: That’s nuts. You know, I probably should have tried a lap with the stability control on.
Here’s another example of tons of fun in a tiny package. Ford‘s Team RS in Europe helped its homegrown SVT division to build the 197-hp pocket rocket in much the same vein as the awe-some Focus ST. They honed its footwork substantially with a modified front knuckle, quicker steering ratio, sharpened Torque Vectoring Control, stiffer dampers and springs, and a lowered ride height.
They gave it a meaner look, model-specific 17-inch alloys, and Recaro buckets. With 177 of the total 202 lb-ft of torque made by the 1.6-liter Ecoboost inline-four available at just 1600 rpm, the front-wheel drive Fiesta ST is fun incarnate from the get-go.
On the engine: It’s a small, wide, front-wheel drive and the power is reasonable. Fairly — it’s got good mid-range. It’ll rev a little bit. It’s not a real revvy engine. Once it gets over 6000 it gets kind of lazy, and once it’s over 6500, I’m kind of waiting for the redline.
On the grip: This car to the seat of my pants it didn’t feel like it generated the kind of grip that the supercars do. And I sort of blame the tires, but we just looked at them and they’re Potenzas — Bridgestone Potenzas with the 140 treadwear rating sounds pretty aggressive. But it felt like there was a lot of squirm, like it was a tire that would benefit from being shaved. And that the car would definitely benefit from a tire with more grip I think.
On the steering: The steering is light. It doesn’t have a ton of feel and it definitely doesn’t build feel as you turn, but it’s accurate enough to be predictable every lap. I had a really good feeling of being able to put the car exactly where I wanted and that I know where it’s going to be by the end of the corner.
Overall: It was really easy to drive fast, a very rewarding and fun car. It reminded me of some of the front-drive cars that I grew up with only better. It’s better than the Focus ST.
- The best new cars to buy on finance for under £150 a month – from family SUVs to compact city cars
- The best diesel cars for 2020
- Volkswagen’s best-selling Golf hatchback gets a face-lift
- Dodge revisits golden age of muscle cars with 2017 Challenger T/A, Charger Daytona
- Part car and part robot, the unstoppable Hyundai Elevate walks over obstacles
- Every car compatible with Apple CarPlay
- The best fuel-efficient cars for 2020
- The best cargo vans for small businesses in 2019
- Best Gas Mileage SUVs for 2020: Nissan takes the top spot
- Uber Freight trucker app gets new features to help drivers make money
- The best station wagons for 2020
- Project CARS 2 review
- Global NCAP Car to Car crash test exposes double standard on vehicle safety in Africa
- Researchers create artificially intelligent ears for cars to improve road safety
- Injured Driver In Westmoreland County Lifeflighted to Pittsburgh Trauma Center
- Uber app adds safety feature to let you report a problem from the car
- Hyundai will use Canoo’s ‘skateboard’ chassis for future electric cars
- Used car market continues to boom, beating slowdown blues
- Japanese continue to dominate India car market as Chinese invasion has just begun
- Woman Hospitalized After Car Plunges Off Cliff On State Route 9 Near Saratoga
2014 Best Driver’s Car Contenders: Part 3 have 1465 words, post on www.motortrend.com at September 23, 2014. This is cached page on Europe Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.